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Do you cook with a "360" vision?


Cronker
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Hello friends.

my question relates to certain dishes and their accepted sides.

for example - if you were going to make smoked cod, the traditional accoutrements would be peas and white parsley sauce.

you wouldn't serve the peas and white sauce with salmon.  You would use dill, for example, and probably potato.

 

 I'm not sure if I am putting my question across correctly, but will just say, do you as a cook throw different influences together with any success?

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Do you mean would I ever put sriracha on my smoked cod?  

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I'm very sorry, been a very tiring day.

what I'm trying to ask is - when you have an ingredient, do you always default to it's accepted method of cooking, or the normal sides, or the dinner that should be served.

another example - would you serve traditional turkey on your holiday with Asian stir fry, or Borscht with latkes, or as an extreme example, fish in red wine sauce?

the 360 thing was just about - do you go outside the box and make things fit, or do you appreciate the dogma?

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No. I break the "rules" on a daily basis. Not only in the kitchen!

 

I am European (English father and French mother) and that influences me a lot, but I've lived abroad in various countries for over 30 years, including the last 21 in China, so I mix everything together.  (Although sometimes, I'll stick to one cuisine, but still break the "rules".)

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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There are "rules?"  Now ya tell me.  

Some of the best food I've ever had has been what I would call fusion

Asian and Mexican ingredients often find each other in the middle of a tortilla.

Tastes like a marriage made in heaven's kitchen. 

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1 hour ago, Cronker said:

I'm very sorry, been a very tiring day.

what I'm trying to ask is - when you have an ingredient, do you always default to it's accepted method of cooking, or the normal sides, or the dinner that should be served.

another example - would you serve traditional turkey on your holiday with Asian stir fry, or Borscht with latkes, or as an extreme example, fish in red wine sauce?

the 360 thing was just about - do you go outside the box and make things fit, or do you appreciate the dogma?

That's more clear, thank you :)

 

For me, I like to start out with new ingredients in their "classic" environment - so I am more of traditionalist. First time I cooked a veal shank, I made Ossobuco with Risotto Milanese. After a couple of successful runs I moved to alternative preparations, sides and now it is a protein I feel confident to prepare and happy to combine in any fashion I deem fit (or rather have to based on what is available at home / the store).

That being said I feel that there are a lot of "time tested" combinations that work and that I appreciate. Not for their authenticity or because theres a rule in place, but because they are just combining well. And more often than not I go for them than randomly putting items together. 

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Of course we all break the rules. We're all so rugged and independent and individual around here! We would never play follow the leader, never. :o

 

But rules become rules for a lot of different reasons. With food, I'd say it's because the food tastes good together. It does not mean that variations don't taste good as well. But classic parings don't come about by chance. I'm not particularly fond of dill, but you know what? It really does go well with salmon. 

 

On a thread about the NY Times Food Section, @Katie Meadow (at least I think it was you) used a perfect word to describe many of the recipes that have been appearing lately: concoctions. Things get thrown together and it's called "innovative," but really it is nothing of the sort. It's just a bunch of things thrown together. This doesn't mean you won't like it, and I think people should eat whatever they like. We can all easily put together a great dinner by just going through the things that are left in our refrigerators. But I think that is distinct from setting out to cook a dish or a menu. I think most of us do not put sriracha into our stuffing on Thanksgiving. 

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I stick with sides that are harmonious with the protein, but I don't consider whether they are blessed by tradition. Lamb needs something a little sweet and/or acidic, but it need not be mint jelly.

 

Having said that sausage always does go well with potato etc

Edited by gfweb (log)
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A slightly related issue regards how closely one must follow a traditional dish's recipe for it to still be called that dish.

 

For example, is it a reuben if there is cole slaw instead of sauerkraut? No it isn't. It's a "cole slaw reuben" or something like that. Likewise, veal saltimboca shouldn't have a brown sauce. It might be tasty but it isn't the dish.

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"Rules" are like speed limit signs - they are there for guidance.  I don't want things on a plate to be fighting for attention but there's more to life than protien, starch and veg.

 

 

Edited by daveb (log)
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2 hours ago, gfweb said:

Lamb needs something a little sweet and/or acidic, but it need not be mint jelly.

 

 

Dear God, no. A pairing I've never understood, and a crime against lamb. My restaurant was out in the middle of nowhere, and guests typically only stayed a night, so thankfully I was able to dodge that request by lamenting that we'd just run out, and "hadn't had time yet to get into town for more."

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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38 minutes ago, chromedome said:

 

Dear God, no. A pairing I've never understood, and a crime against lamb. My restaurant was out in the middle of nowhere, and guests typically only stayed a night, so thankfully I was able to dodge that request by lamenting that we'd just run out, and "hadn't had time yet to get into town for more."

A crime? Then lock up my mother's ashes! She always served lamb chops with mint jelly; the jelly didn't stick with me beyond nostalgia (although if I am ever served mint jelly with lamb I wouldn't turn it down), but the mint did. I like roast lamb with mint chimichurri. I like lamb curry with mint chutney. 

 

My mother was generally a terrible cook. But she gets a pass because she tended to blame herself rather than the recipe; she didn't really have enough experience or confidence to know when a recipe was bad. So she was a timid cook, and tended to follow rules, many of them being silly or just wrong, because she didn't really have any help and didn't really enjoy cooking. After marrying my dad, her first meal was roast chicken. She didn't remove the innards or the feathers. Some rules there might have helped. Unfortunately she had many rules she followed during the years I grew up that limited or often hurt her cooking, not to mention other areas of life.

 

Some traditional pairings have weight behind them because they are yummy. Some are comforting because you grew up with them. Some are unappealing for a variety of personal reasons. Some are due (and get) great updates. I always bristle at the word "authentic." Throughout history people have used what they have. When what you had was limited by what you could grow or what animals you domesticated yourself, the result was traditional foods. When you discovered a new weed or a new fungus or your cousin from another village showed you a new way to do something, then....innovation! 

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 Mint sauce with lamb?  Absolutely. Mint jelly with lamb is an abomination if it appears on my plate. xD

 

You may do as you please. :P

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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While there are many ingredients that complement each other well, I think it's pretty clear that one cook's rule is another's abomination :D!

 

I also take exception to the notion that a protein of some sort should be at the center of the plate and accompanied by "sides," whether they are "normal" or not!

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I might look to a "classic" preparation if I have an unfamiliar ingredient in order to get a baseline. Example cardoons. My eating and cooking experiences have been culturally mixed across a broad spectrum. If it tastes good - "rules" - nah.

 

I found this recent piece on authenticity worth a read  https://www.kcet.org/shows/the-migrant-kitchen/good-food-and-the-problematic-search-for-authenticity

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I like to know the rules and I am rather prissy about them. I know what's right and wrong in a paella, a Bolognese sauce and a biriyani. However I will cook with what's available and will certainly not criticise what someone else serves up based on these rules. One of my best friends is a professional chef who doesn't give two hoots about the rules but consistently makes great tasting food. He also washes his knives  (and mine!) in the dishwasher...

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7 hours ago, heidih said:

I might look to a "classic" preparation if I have an unfamiliar ingredient in order to get a baseline. Example cardoons. My eating and cooking experiences have been culturally mixed across a broad spectrum. If it tastes good - "rules" - nah.

 

I found this recent piece on authenticity worth a read  https://www.kcet.org/shows/the-migrant-kitchen/good-food-and-the-problematic-search-for-authenticity

 

Great piece. Many good points. The author sort of restated an old eG discussion of whether NY Italian food was authentic Italian ...but using different cuisines. Same point though. 

And I'd add that Eastern Blue Crabs aren't authentic Japanese food, but they sure do consume a lot of them, apparently with angst about authenticity 

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Yes taste is at the core as well as the love and care you put into the food you serve. I know that were she alive my maternal grandmother who suffered much  food privation in work camps and on the run as a refugee, would have diffficulty with the spice heat in my food, but would be quite happy when I add foraged wild fennel to the cucumber & sour cream salad or introduce  coconut milk versus cream in a dish..  

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Rules are handy when you're learning a (dish, cuisine, technique, etc.). Once you have it in hand, that, for me, is when it's time to branch out. I would, for instance, never have thought to create the shrimp salad that uses shrimp, corn, avocadoes and cocktail sauce, but I was looking at all those one day and, well, it made sense. As did the chicken salad with corn and bacon and grated cheese, and a yogurt/mayo dressing spiced with smoked pimenton and a little cumin. 

 

I break rules on a fairly regular basis. But I follow them on a lot of other occasions. Depends on the day and the dish.

 

 

 

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

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On 2018-01-20 at 6:09 AM, gfweb said:

A slightly related issue regards how closely one must follow a traditional dish's recipe for it to still be called that dish.

 

For example, is it a reuben if there is cole slaw instead of sauerkraut? No it isn't. It's a "cole slaw reuben" or something like that. Likewise, veal saltimboca shouldn't have a brown sauce. It might be tasty but it isn't the dish.

I had a discussion about restaurants calling a dish by it’s traditional name and then not using the usual ingredients.  If I order a Reuben that’s what I want.  Recently I ordered a “Bistecka”at an Italian restaurant and I got a 3/4inch thick steak.  That’s a “steak” dammit.  

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